6 Texas Rangers under the microscope in spring training

These five players will under close examination this spring as the team will be determining if they will have a role on this team going forward.

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Minnesota Twins v Texas Rangers / Bailey Orr/Texas Rangers/GettyImages
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3. Ezequiel Duran

2023 was a tale of two halves for young infielder. Duran in the first half looked like a future superstar who should not be included in a Shohei Ohtani trade. He filled in for an injured Corey Seager at short who was out with a hamstring injury. He then became the everyday left fielder for much of the first half. His bat was lethal as he was hitting for average and power. He was driving the ball into the gap and doing what he does best and that is getting extra base hits. He finished the first half with a .308 batting average, 12 home runs, 35 RBIs, and an .870 OPS. It was tremendous and he was getting All-Star buzz by the end of June.

The second half though was a different story as it seemed like Duran hit a wall and could not overcome it. He went from playing nearly every day to only playing 52 games in the second half. He did not receive an at-bat in the entire postseason as he was left off the roster for every round. He only got added after Adolis Garcia's oblique injury in game three of the World Series. Duran in the second half had a .226 batting average, two home runs, 11 RBIs, and a .610 OPS. He went from must-play to barely play by the end of the season.

Duran will need to show in camp that the second half was just a conditioning problem and not a performance problem. He will have Foscue and Dustin Harris breathing down his neck if he does not play well in camp or struggles to start the season. The opportunities to play in camp will be expansive throughout at least the midway point of camp. Corey Seager underwent a sports hernia surgery last month that will likely keep him sidelined until the last half of spring training. Duran will have chances to show that he is closer to the player he was in the first half than he was in the second half.

4. Marc Church

Church has several things going for him this spring training. First, he is on the 40-man roster for the first time. Second, the Rangers think very highly of him. Third, there is openings in the bullpen and he is likely to see time in Arlington at some point this season. Texas loved Church so much that in 2023 he was one of the last cuts from the major league roster. He was in camp appearing in spring training games almost to the very end of the Cactus League schedule. He had a very good spring training in 2023.

This spring training he is on the roster and will certainly be given a closer look to see if he is ready. Church in 2023 started the season in Frisco, but he was then quickly promoted to Round Rock. Last season Church finished the season with a 3.63 ERA, with 79 strikeouts in 62 innings, and a 9-4 record. His biggest issue last season was 38 walks. That was a big increase from 2022. He will need to improve upon that to be considered an option for the major league bullpen. '

Church who will turn 23 on March 30th shortly after the season begins just needs to pitch with the command he possessed in 2022. If he can do that his walk rate will go down, his strikeout rate should come back up, and he will be pitching in a Texas Rangers uniform at some point in the 2024 season.